The Mediterranean diet has undeniably become one of the most popular eating programs in recent years. And latest research may help its fame in the dieting community soar even more.
According to a new study published in the journal Heart, women reap huge benefits from the Mediterranean diet since it can lower their risk of heart disease and early death.
Dietary modification is considered the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. The diet has been associated with a lower risk of CVD, but there haven’t been systematic reviews evaluating this in women until recently.
Through the new study, the research team determined the association between higher versus lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet and incident CVD and total mortality in women.
After examining data from 16 studies conducted between 2003 and 2021, the team found that the diet lowered the risk of CVD by 24% to 25%. On the other hand, it slashed the risk of early death by 23%.
The findings were mainly from women in the U.S. and Europe aged 18 and above. Their CVD health was monitored for an average of 12.5 years.
“This study supports a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on primary prevention of CVD and death in women, and is an important step in enabling sex-specific guidelines,” the authors wrote.
The Mediterranean diet was dubbed the best diet overall for six straight years by US News & World Report since it is focused on quality sourcing and food items rich in nutrients, including fresh produce, lean protein, fish and olive oil.
The new study further establishes the benefits of the diet over other eating programs. It also gives insight into which lifestyle changes would be helpful for women since heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, it is unclear why the Mediterranean diet is more beneficial for women than men in this aspect. Further research on the sex-specific benefits of the program is needed to establish the findings.
“Mechanisms explaining the sex-specific effect of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease and death remain unclear. Female-specific cardiovascular risk factors, including premature menopause, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, or female predominant risk factors, such as systemic lupus, can all independently increase cardiovascular disease risk,” study author Dr. Sarah Zaman said, as quoted by the New York Post.